A joint is a structure where two or more bones meet and fit together. Other tissues within a joint include ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and synovial fluid. Joint problems arise when something goes wrong with any of these structures.
If a joint condition or injury is preventing you from engaging in life, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health. We offer care in all areas, and we treat joint conditions and injuries as well.
Signs and symptoms of joint conditions vary according to the specific problem. Pain is a common symptom and varies with the cause. It can feel sharp and severe or dull and achy. Other symptoms include stiffness, limited range of motion, and swelling and warmth over the joint. In fractures and dislocations, the joint may have a noticeable deformity.
Many joint conditions and injuries also affect the muscles. As a result, you may notice muscle aches, tenderness, or bruising.
Overuse injuries from repetitive motion are a common cause of problems like tendonitis and stress fractures. Overuse combined with age-related wear and tear on the joints can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
Traumatic injuries (accidental or sports-related injuries) are the usual cause of acute injuries, such as broken bones, sprains, and dislocations.
Some conditions have precise causes. For example, gout occurs when uric acid crystal deposits form in the joint. People who develop gout either produce too much uric acid, or their body can’t flush it out as well.
Common joint conditions and injuries include:
- Degenerative joint and bone diseases, such as osteoarthritis
- Fractures and breaks
- Gout, a kind of arthritis
- Rheumatic disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis
- Sprains and strains
- Overuse injuries such as tendonitis
Joint injuries and diseases can be caused by a wide variety of scenarios, each of which has different risk factors. They may include:
- Diagnosis of arthritis (including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Previous joint injury, such as a sprain
- Obesity or being overweight
- Lack of muscular conditioning or physical fitness
- Repetitive motion through sports, manual labor, your job, or hobbies
- Age (joint injuries become more likely over time)
- Poor form during activities
- Overtraining or overextending/overexerting the body during activity
- Not using proper safety equipment during activity
- Engaging in high-impact sports or sports that require repetitive motion, such as football, skiing, soccer, wrestling, rock climbing, running, or tennis
Preventing joint injuries involves reducing risk factors. Some steps you can take to protect your joints include:
- Making sure you have proper training before engaging in an activity
- Using all required safety gear and making sure it is correctly fitted
- Stopping when you feel pain and avoiding “pushing through” an injury
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Resting when needed and not overtraining
- Using proper form when engaging in activities such as sports or weightlifting
- Engaging in regular exercise to strengthen the muscles around and supporting your joints
- Eating a healthy diet low in salt and sugar and high in vegetables, as recommended by your doctor
- Avoiding activities that cause pain or adjusting your positioning or form to avoid straining your joints
- Making sure you have the proper footwear to support your knees, hips, and other joints during activities like running and weightlifting
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.